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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Making Prayers Fresh and New


While listening to Christian radio today, I heard Dr. Edwin Lutzer talk about how we need to renew our minds on how to pray. He mentioned how little time most Christians spend in prayer and the reasons behind the lack of time spent in prayer. Many feel that prayer is boring and that we just keep repeating ourselves, that not much is accomplished.

Lutzer then outlined a method of prayer that really hit home with me, as it involves praying with scripture! We've been talking about this in Bible Study and even discussed compiling various scriptures to use in prayer. Rev. Lutzer told of George Muller who lived in England in the 1800's. He was a Christian evangelist and the director of an orphanage. Muller's devotional life included God's word and meditating on it. He did this each morning upon waking up and by breakfast his mind was in a peaceful, happy place.

Turning the Word into prayer includes ACTS, adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication. Using scripture in prayer ensures:
  1. You'll never have to say the same ole' prayer about the same ole' things. Always fresh, always new.
  2. God will respond, you can interact with God. He can say something and you can say something.
  3. Your soul will be satisfied

An Example With Psalm 23 the red print is an example of what type of thing you could add.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Oh Father, I want to thank you today that Jesus is my Shepherd. Thank you for the privilege of being one of your sheep. I pray that you will make me an obedient sheep. Oh God, make me a good shepherd of the the people that you have entrusted into my care. I'd like to pray for other shepherds in my church.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Father I pray today that you might enable me to be led beside quiet waters, may my soul rest in you, Lord, satisfy my soul with you.

He restoreth my soul:
Lord, I know that so often I am prone to wander. I feel prone to leave the God I love, oh Lord restore me.

he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Keep me in the path walking righteously. Guide me along the path you would have me follow, not the path the world follows.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Lord, help me feel your presence daily as I walk in the world's shadows. Help me not to fear troubles I encounter.

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Jesus, you are my shepherd, please help me feel your love and comfort. I love you for providing comfort in this world of trouble.

Thou prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
My cup is not just full but runs over with joy at the prospect of what you have prepared for me in heaven

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Lord, as a believer, I know that you will guide and protect me here in earth and when I live in perfect goodness with you in heaven. I'm so thankful to have you with me on my journey through life.



Sunday, April 7, 2019

God's Will in Prayer

Prayer has been on my mind for quite a while lately. The more we read the Bible, the more we learn and grow. So many people, myself included, have read isolated scriptures out of context. “Ask and you shall receive” is one. Taken out of context this could be interpreted as whatever you ask for, you get. But, as I said before, God is not a genie in a bottle granting wishes. In order to maintain a close relationship with God we must read His word. If we regularly read God's word and study scripture, we learn we must ask for God's will. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us that God hears all our prayers. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

God dearly loves us and wants only the best for us. His great, unfathomable love is shown by what he has done for us. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32.

In the garden of Gethsemane the night before the crucifixion, Jesus prayed that the cup be taken from Him. The cup represents separation from God. Jesus also said, AS YOU WILL. Matthew 26:38-39
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” God's will for His own son!

Reading 2 Corinthians 2:9-12 gives some insight to the depth of God's perspective. To adequately put it into human language is impossible. That's why God gave us the Holy Spirit to interpret and give us understanding. God has this grand design, a story consisting of all the people ever created. Our lives intersect and meld together, with man's free will in the story plot as well. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. Often our free will and refusal to obey God gets in the way of His grand story, but He works it out for the good of those who love Him.

When we pray asking for something, we must pray for God's will. He knows best. He will answer our prayer in His way and in His timing. If it's not His will, or is not good for us, He will not give it to us. The Holy Spirit helps us know God's will, but sometimes he may delay our understanding what is will is, in order to accomplish something else in our life. John 16:13 speaks about knowing God's will. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. For me, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 is a clear illustration of God's will and how it is always better that our will....because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. God places or allows thorns in our lives to teach us and keep us dependent on Him.


Friday, April 5, 2019

You Can Support Persecuted Christians

Christian Solidarity Worldwide


CSW is a Human Rights Organization that works to defend, uphold and promote the right to freedom of religion or belief in over 20 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Through their advocacy, they challenge world leaders to fulfill their duty to protect religious freedom. CSW regularly provides decision-makers in the UK parliament, United Nations, European Union and US Congress with accurate reports on freedom of religion or belief around the world.

Part of the work CSW does includes Connect & Encourage, a publication that provides information and addresses of victims of violence, intimidation or harassment. These people need encouragement and by sending cards and letters of encouragement. Receiving a personal letter reminds each person who gets it that someone, somewhere cares about their suffering.

 I am so convinced that this is such a worthwhile, easy thing we can do to encourage, and witness to others that I am sharing it here, to my Womens' Circle at church and I'm going to expand our Card Ministry to include workshops for creating pretty cards to send to our brothers and sisters who are in such dire need of God's uplifting love through other people. Take a minute to watch this video interview with Dr Garcia Peneque https://youtu.be/V1fSw4meQJc.


"You cannot imagine the worth of a letter. You cannot imagine the worth of some words of encouragement."– Cuban prisoner, speaking to CSW
For someone who's suffering for their faith, often the worst part is feeling alone. But the Connect & Encourage booklet allows others to shine a light into their darkness by writing to them. The booklet provides names and addresses of people around the world who are harassed, imprisoned or tortured for their beliefs. A church under attack in Cuba is the latest group of people who would be greatly encouraged by your message of support.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

“I’m not convinced my card will make a difference to the person who receives it.”
Yes, it really will!
Gloria from Cuba told us, “Sometimes I ran out of the strength to pray myself. In the darkest moments, when we felt totally hopeless, alone and desperate and we couldn’t even pray for ourselves, it was alright because we knew there were people all over holding us up in prayer, when we ourselves could not.”

Imagine thinking you’re facing a horrific situation all alone. Maybe your husband is a church leader who was shot dead after he refused to stop preaching. That’s what happened to Gloria’s husband. Or maybe you’ve been imprisoned because of your faith – and then you get a card from a person on the other side of the world who’s thinking about you. Your cards could be a lifeline in someone’s darkest moments, just like they were for Gloria.
“OK, that’s great, but it won’t really help their situation, will it?”
Yes, it will!

We’ve seen many times that a prisoner’s conditions improve once they start getting post from abroad. They’ve received extra food, more exercise, and much-needed medical care – as a direct result of your cards and letters. What’s more, Pastor Truong in Vietnam was able to share his faith with his prison guards after they asked him why he was getting so many cards!

If a prisoner receives lots of post from abroad, the prison authorities know that people outside the country have heard about this prisoner’s case, so they can’t get away with mistreating the prisoner.
“But I don’t know what to write.”
We’ve made it easy for you! Here are some guidelines:
  • Just write a little bit about yourself – where you live, what the area is like, your family, your hobbies, and so on.
  • Most of the people in Connect & Encourage are Christians, so you could write an encouraging Bible verse in the card, and some Christian greetings such as ‘God bless you’ and ‘May the Lord be with you’.
  • Even if the person who gets your card can’t read English, receiving it will still encourage them by reminding them that they’re not forgotten.
  • Writing relevant Bible references is useful for non-English speakers so they can look up the verses in their own language. Free online translator: https://www.babelfish.com/
  • If you’re happy to receive a reply, it’s safe to include your name and address on the cards. Many people have developed rewarding relationships in this way, by writing to and hearing from people who suffer because of their faith.
HERE'S HOW
You’ll find answers to a few more questions you may have, inside Connect & Encourage. Download it today and get it writing!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Praying With Scripture

We have been taling about prayer in our current Bible Study and several of us thought that coming up with some prayers based on scripture for various topics would be a great thing to have on hand. We can of course use them ourselves, but also share them. I've started compling scripture in categories and wil use this as a base from which to write the prayers. I probably won't use all of the verses on the list, but it's a p;ace to start. As we finish our list of prayers, I'll publish them here on the blog.

Here is a PDF file of the full document.

A Sample of the document below:
Anxiety, Worry and Depression
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
  • Trust in him at all times, O' people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8
  • Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than day? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:26-27
  • Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you 1 Peter 5:7
  • Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Grief
  • Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die. Isaiah 57:1-2
  • And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Making Disciples As We Go

In Priscilla Shirer's book, Jonah, she calls us to make disciples. Here is a good article to help you share the Good News. It's short and uses Jesus' method of evangelizing, asking questions!
https://www.thegoodbook.com/blog/usefulresources/2016/09/20/four-steps-to-turning-conversations-to-christ/




Monday, March 18, 2019

God is Not a Genie in a Bottle

People often think of God as a genie in a bottle ready to grant us all our wishes. They go to God in prayer with their shopping list of wants. Many people read the scriptures below and take the meaning literally, out of context.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. John 14:13

Matthew Henry, the great British theologian explained that the words in these passages of scripture above. It is assumed that we ask for good gifts, and that we ask as Christ has taught us, in His name and according to His spirit. Otherwise we may ask and not receive, because what we ask for is unsuitable, not quite right, or out of place, or out of order. Every one who asks does receive, that is, everyone who asks correctly, who prays in faith and in submission to the will of God. A parent will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good. Whatever we ask in Christ's name, that would be for our good, God will give to us. To ask in Christ's name, is to make an emotional appeal for his goodness on our behalf.

I recently spoke to someone who has recently experienced a tragedy. I was telling him how I've been praying for their family, and the response was, "yeah well it's not doing much good." I ached to hear that and thought of how we are to be Ambassadors for Christ. We need to share the fact that we have troubles too, and they're not all going to go away when we pray. We must pray for God's will, not expect Him to answer the way we want them answered, when we want.

How do we respond when God doesn't answer our prayers? Does our faith waver if He doesn't give us what we've asked for in the way and time that we expected? Charles Stanley says that we need to understand what God is doing in our lives. Sometimes God doesn't immediately give the relief we are asking for because He's using that particular trial to produce something good in us. God wants us to come to Him with our requests, trusting that He hears us. If he doesn't answer them immediately, it's not because He doesn't care. His purposes are always accomplished according to His timing, not ours. He may answer in a different way or later than we expect. That's why we must wait and trust Him even when we see no evidence of an answer. Stanley says that “whenever God delays in responding to our petitions, He's teaching us to consistently trust and believe Him, not because we see the answer, but because He's promised to hear and answer our prayers. When doubts arise because God delays, it's due to our lack of trust in Him, not a lack of care or ability on the Lord's part.”

Human reasoning and faith are not always compatible. We may have all kinds of good reasons for asking for something, but God sees more of the situation than we do. God is Omnipotent, He knows so much more than we can even fathom. Charles Stanley explained it perfectly when he said, “If God delays in answering a prayer, He has divine reason that is good, legitimate, and helpful. His primary purpose is not to give us everything we desire but to shape us into the image of His Son, and He knows the perfect way to accomplish this.”

God is not a Genie who grants wishes, but we must still pray constantly while remembering to ask for God's will and time, and have faith. God loved us so much that He gave His only son for our sins. 

Prayer changes things.



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Breakup With Fear


Sick and tired of being sick and tired
Had as much of you as I can take
I'm so done, so over being afraid
I've gone through the motions
I've been back and forth
I know that you're thinking you've heard this before
I don't know how to say it
So I'm just gonna say it, yeah
Fear, you don't own me
There ain't no room in this story
And I ain't got time for you
Telling me what I'm not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I'm strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here
Take a minute, let it settle in
You probably never saw it coming
Something's gotta give so I give up you, oh
There's no room for you here
Yeah, I've had enough
The "No Vacancy" sign on my heart is lit up
In case you didn't hear it
Here it is again,
Oh, fear, you don't own me
There ain't no room in this story
And I ain't got time for you
Telling me what I'm not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I'm strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here
Is there anybody out there just like me?
Anybody needing fear to leave?
If you don't know how to say it
Sing along with me
Sing fear, you don't own me
There ain't no room in this story
And I ain't got time for you
Telling me what I'm not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I'm strong, brave
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here
Whoa, goodbye, goodbye fear
Whoa, you will never be welcome here